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Amygdala facilitates goals based on emotional context

Choosing valuable and useful actions is essential for survival, but the nervous mechanism, especially the amygdala that underlies such context-appropriate behavior, is unclear. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, designed a content-dependent reward task for the macaque.

The amygdala is known to control passive fear responses, but it is unclear whether it also contributes to active behavior. Kazutaka Maeda and his team hypothesize that the amygdala contributes to active behavior and designs new feeding tasks for monkeys in which various emotional contexts change in many environments.

Penelitian Amygdala facilitates goals based on emotional context

Each experiment begins with the appearance of one of the many visual scenes containing two or more objects and the monkey must choose a good object by saccade to get the prize. This scene is categorized into two dimensions of emotional context is dangerous versus secure and rich versus poor.

This exciting task encourages rapid learning and high capacity memory of objects and environments that further lead to behavior that is directed at very fast goals. The researchers report to PLOS Biology where the behavior directed toward the goal is influenced by the emotional context.

Many neurons in the amygdala respond to the environment before the object appears and do it selectively depending on the emotional context of the environment. Neuronal activity correlates closely with behavioral reaction times directed at goals across the context including faster behavior in dangerous or rich contexts.



These findings suggest that the amygdala facilitates goal-directed behavior by focusing on the emotional context. Such functions are also important for emotional-social behavior and disorders, including eye-gaze on autism behavior.

Journal : Kazutaka Maeda et al. Amygdala activity for the modulation of goal-directed behavior in emotional contexts, PLOS Biology, June 5, 2018, DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2005339

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